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Environmentalists and the 2006 Senate Race June 7, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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The Philadelphia Inquirer comments on the impact the environment will have on the 2006 Senate Race:

"In a race with only subtle differences between the candidates on some key issues, the environment could emerge as one of the sharpest dividing lines, testing Santorum's record of often deferring to the marketplace for solutions against Casey's support of increased government regulation…The League of Conservation Voters has made the senator's defeat a top priority. It plans to knock on 40,000 doors in Delaware County, and do a mail, phone and, possibly, a radio campaign for Casey, said Monica Sherer, the league's Pennsylvania campaign manager."

The Philadelphia Inquirer acknowledges that Santorum has a very strong record on open space, brownfields redevelopment, and farmland preservation, but he doesn't go far enough in the opinion of many environmentalists. In this he differs from Casey who "says he would have sided with the League of Conservation Voters on every 2005 vote." Here are the some of the key environmental issues according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Santorum backs oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Casey opposes it.

On global warming, Santorum says "scientists have not decisively concluded" that it exists, and the government should react cautiously to calls for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases. Casey "is convinced there is global warming," his spokesman, Larry Smar, said.

Santorum backed Bush's 2005 rule on power-plant mercury emissions. Casey says this measure does not go far enough and supports Gov. Rendell's efforts to enact stricter rules on state coal plants."

Protecting open space and farmland preservation is a key issue in PA, and it is one that both candidates support. However, Pennsylvania is also a manufacturing state.  How many jobs in PA would be lost by enforcing mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases? What would the effect be on cost of goods or on taxes? 

Every reasonable person can agree that protecting the environment is a worthy and necessary goal.  But when you ask the average Pennsylvanian what matters more — the economy/job security, taxes or global warming– when they enter the voting booth, I suspect that global warming, which is still debated in scientific circles, ranks last on most people's lists. The Philadelphia Inquirer acknowledges this:

"Santorum's aides say he tries to balance environmental needs with Pennsylvania's role as a manufacturing state. The approach helped him earn a 100 percent rating last year from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which scored legislators on six environment votes.

Historically, the environment ranks near the bottom on the list of issues voters consider among the most pressing in the state, according to 12-year data from the Keystone Poll of Franklin & Marshall College. However, open space in the Philadelphia suburbs and brownfields redevelopment in the city elevates the issue among those voters, pollster Berwood Yost said.

A convergence of factors – most notably, high gas prices that have focused attention on energy issues, and the release of a global warming documentary featuring former Vice President Al Gore – could give the environment a more prominent place in the political debate, say pollsters and environmental groups."

I'm concerned about the environment, but I don't think increased government regulation would be more effective than marketplace solutions to environmental problems.  Although government regulation may not be more effective, it is definitely more expensive. (Don't agree? Then read up on the impact government regulation of refineries has had on our gas prices.  Regulation of refineries is a key factor behind our high gas prices.)

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